Brexit delay formally adopted says Tusk as he bids goodbye to 'British friends'

Access to the comments Comments
By Alasdair Sandford  & Euronews
Brexit delay formally adopted says Tusk as he bids goodbye to 'British friends'
Copyright  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The outgoing President of the European Council has confirmed that the EU has formally adopted the latest Brexit extension – and sent a warm farewell message to the United Kingdom.

Donald Tusk's message via Twitter came with an appeal to "please make the best use of this time". The EU has agreed a three-month Brexit delay until January 31, 2020, in line with the UK's request.

"I will keep my fingers crossed for you," he added.

A press release from the EC was released at the same time.

"The European Council has adopted a decision to extend the period under Article 50.3 (of the Treaty on the European Union), in the context of the UK's intention to withdraw from the EU.

The extension will last until 31 January 2020 to allow more time for the ratification of the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal can take place earlier on 1 December 2019 or 1 January 2020, if the withdrawal agreement is ratified by both parties," it reads.

In April Donald Tusk made a similar appeal to the UK, following the last decision to grant a Brexit delay until the end of October.

Last February, as Theresa May's government battled to get her deal through parliament in the run-up to the original deadline, Tusk caused controversy by tweeting that there was a "special place in hell" for those who promoted Brexit without a plan.

Watch again: 'A no-deal Brexit will never be our decision', says Tusk during EU plenary

The summer saw the former prime minister replaced by Boris Johnson. Earlier this month he succeeded in renegotiating a divorce deal with the EU, after belatedly submitting a plan to Brussels.

However, the British parliament has still to ratify it. The revised deal needs the approval of the UK and European parliaments to take effect.

Johnson's government suspended the parliamentary bill to implement it after lawmakers approved it in principle at an early stage, but opposed the planned fast-track timetable.

On Tuesday UK lawmakers were preparing to vote on a possible early general election in December. The move was made far more likely after the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn lifted his opposition earlier in the day.

The prime minister insists an election is needed to break the deadlock over Brexit.

Donald Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, has been the European Council's president since December 2014 and his five-year term ends this year. The Council – made up of the EU's national leaders – sets the EU's overall political direction.

Read more:

UK parliament debates snap election to end Brexit deadlock

Brexit Guide: Where are we now – and how did we get here?

What's in Boris Johnson's Brexit deal with the European Union?